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Mil Med. 2014 Feb;179(2):114-20. doi: 10.7205/MILMED-D-13-00311.

Effects of training and simulated combat stress on leg tourniquet application accuracy, time, and effectiveness.

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Emergency Medicine Department, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, 620 John Paul Jones Circle, Portsmouth, VA 23708.
The Emergency Statistician, Box 999, 25361 Marion Ridge Drive, Idyllwild, CA 92549.


The lower extremity tourniquet failure rate remains significantly higher in combat than in preclinical testing, so we hypothesized that tourniquet placement accuracy, speed, and effectiveness would improve during training and decline during simulated combat. Navy Hospital Corpsman (N = 89), enrolled in a Tactical Combat Casualty Care training course in preparation for deployment, applied Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT) and the Special Operations Forces Tactical Tourniquet (SOFT-T) on day 1 and day 4 of classroom training, then under simulated combat, wherein participants ran an obstacle course to apply a tourniquet while wearing full body armor and avoiding simulated small arms fire (paint balls). Application time and pulse elimination effectiveness improved day 1 to day 4 (p < 0.005). Under simulated combat, application time slowed significantly (p < 0.001), whereas accuracy and effectiveness declined slightly. Pulse elimination was poor for CAT (25% failure) and SOFT-T (60% failure) even in classroom conditions following training. CAT was more quickly applied (p < 0.005) and more effective (p < 0.002) than SOFT-T. Training fostered fast and effective application of leg tourniquets while performance declined under simulated combat. The inherent efficacy of tourniquet products contributes to high failure rates under combat conditions, pointing to the need for superior tourniquets and for rigorous deployment preparation training in simulated combat scenarios.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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